Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Belief in any god is better than atheism

I was recently on a religion-related discussion forum, and found a thread in which a Christian was arguing that as long as somebody believes in a god, any god at all, that's better than atheism.

This seemed like a strange stance to take. After all, if this person is a Christian, and believes that the only way to salvation is through his religion, why would it bother him that somebody is an atheist, but not bother him if somebody is a Ra-worshiper? Isn't the Ra-worshiper bound for the same hellish fate as the atheist? Why isn't that detail important to this person? Don't they care about the fate of our eternal souls?

I'm sure many other religious people also feel the same way. We see evidence of this when religious people argue that the vast majority of the world believes in gods of some kind, not caring that most of those people don't believe in the same gods as they do. They're just happy to have people on the side of supernatural belief.

I don't know the definite answer to this problem, but I do have my suspicions. I'm going to suggest that the answer is related to their own hidden doubts about their faith. Deep down, these people suspect that they might be wrong about their religious beliefs, and that there really aren't any gods at all. They suspect that the atheists who laugh at them might be right, that they are totally delusional, and that they have wasted their only lives on worship of a non-existent phantom.

Wouldn't that be embarrassing if it were true? Wouldn't it be embarrassing if the atheists, who looked down on the believers for their utter stupidity, their limited powers of comprehension, their fancy and useless robes, their constant chanting to the ceiling, their sacrifices of time and money, their rejection of scientific knowledge, their following of child-molesting frauds, their belief that ancient books can order them around, etc., were completely correct? The only chance that these people have to avoid devastating embarrassment is if all people hold supernatural beliefs in one form or another. So they're happy if we believe in any gods at all. Then when the embarrassment is realised, they can shrug and say, "Everybody else believed it, too.", instead of hearing, "I told you so! You owe me a Coke!"


ptet said...

Nice post.

I don't think the doubts Christians have about faith are that deeply hidden.

They desperately want there to be a God, either to have order in their lives, or more usually to know that there's an afterlife for them and/or their loved ones.

So, having decided that there MUST Be a god, they then move on to "choosing" which one. And, of course, culturally they hear all about or were brought up with Christianity, so "miraculously", the decide that's the particular religion to follow.

What drives them crazy, and shows up the vacuousness of this argument, is someone simply saying "well I don't know what create the universe but there's no reason whatsoever to believe it's any of the gods described by men".

Hence they think atheism is an unforgivable sin.


Hey, you know, you're dealing with people who will never understand than an argument from adverse consequences is not an argument.


Thesauros said...

"but I do have my suspicions."
The problem is your suspicions are biased :) I'm surprised that the forum and whoever made that comment didn't explain it further. Or maybe s/he did and you just didn't want to include it here? If I had to guess, I'd say a Christian might say that because at least someone in a different religion is at least looking, searching, trying to make sense of the obvious transcendent nature, or mind or ? that is out there. Jesus said that if we honestly search for Him He will make Himself known to us. Which leads to the comment by your reader -

atheism is the unforgiveable sin.

It only makes sense that you can't be forgiven if you don't see the need for forgiveness. You can't received the gift of salvation if your hands are already full of what this world offers. You can't be convinced of receiving medical treatment when you don't acknowledge that you're ill.

Admin said...

Makarios, it's not a bad theory of why the Christian might have said that, so thanks for the input. As for the concept of that suggestion, I oppose it. If Jesus will appear to people who are genuinely trying to look for something higher, then he's doing a pretty piss-poor job of appearing to the roughly 3 billion humans who are religious but not Christian. Maybe there's a waiting list?

Also, if Jesus wanted me to stay on-board, he missed his chance to appear to me during the years that I was a Christian.

ptet said...

"atheism is the unforgiveable sin."

How incredibly insecure is this supposed "God" chap? M. makes him sound like a complete psychopath.

Anonymous said...

ptet has a point. Why would an omniscient omnipotent being be concerned about whether people believe in him or not? That is just ludicrous. Or it's overwhelming pride and vanity - which is a sin is it not?

To paraphrase it

You have to believe in this thing called God because God is a thing that needs us to believe in it. Huh? So what happens if we dont believe in it? It's not there anymore. :-)

MaikUniversum said...

True, if we stop believing in gods, they just...disappear. And that scares believers as hell :D

Anonymous said...

I may be alittle late for this but isn´t the answer quite obvious?
Their problem with atheism is that there usuall and older tactics (claiming that they´re right, presenting pseudo-evidence, threatening with both violence and after,death-consequences and makinng empty promises), which they used against other believe systems only work if someone accepts faith as an acceptable alternative to an evidence-supported worldview. They therefor are simply threatened by atheism.